Rain, progress allow for scaled-back operations at 2 Arizona wildfires

Jul 1, 2021, 4:00 PM
A rainbow spans the sky over the Rafael Fire incident command post. (Megan Jackson Photo via InciWe...
A rainbow spans the sky over the Rafael Fire incident command post. (Megan Jackson Photo via InciWeb)
(Megan Jackson Photo via InciWeb)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Recent rain and progress in containing two major wildfires that threatened several communities in Arizona’s high country are allowing authorities to scale back operations in some areas.

The top-tier incident management team assigned to a fire that threatened Pine and Strawberry in east-central Arizona turned over command to local units on Thursday and a similar transition to a lower-tier team will take place Friday for a wildfire southwest of Flagstaff in northern Arizona.

The Backbone Fire west of Pine and Strawberry was contained around 76% of its perimeter as of Wednesday while the Rafael Fire southwest of Flagstaff was at 89% containment as of Thursday.

Lightning started both fires and each has burned tens of thousands of acres.

Crews assigned to those fires were mopping up, patrolling and looking for remaining hot spots, officials said in separate statements.

Despite the progress, multiple other fires continued to burn around the state, mostly in remote areas, and authorities issued statements reminding the public that several national forests remained closed to the public due to continued fire danger and that fireworks posted a hazard amid the continuing drought.

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Rain, progress allow for scaled-back operations at 2 Arizona wildfires